In this series, we take a moment to introduce you to each member of our team. Why? Because, with backgrounds in everything from social work to horticulture to construction, each of our team members has their own unique expertise and perspective. So, today, let’s get to know Tiffany Malone and learn what it’s really like to be a realtor.
What drew you to your job?
“What drew me to my job was curiosity. I’ve always been interested in real estate, land, houses, home decor, and everything else that goes into real estate. Plus, I knew that the average realtor made more money than the average 9-5 individual, and I knew that real estate would provide me with the flexibility I needed to be a more hands-on mother. So, after years of working in the insurance industry, I decided it was time to live life on my own terms, and I jumped into real estate.“
What did you do before real estate?
“Before real estate, I had a government job. I adjudicated social security claims. It was repetitive work, and I could knock out several claims quickly. So part of me liked that job just because I knew I was good at it. However, in that role, there was no room for me to grow or to challenge myself. So, eventually, the comfort of routine gave way to the need to expand, which led me to real estate. In my work now, I get to use my eye for detail and precision alongside my desire to challenge myself and to learn new things. “
What’s something you wish you knew when you started in real estate?
“When I first started, I wish I knew how much work really goes into being a realtor and into real estate, because this work is hard! Talking to my younger self, I’d say, ‘Hey, doing this there’s going to be a lot of ‘No’s’ and fierce competition, so you’ll need to work around the clock and know how to budget your money (because you will not make money right away). And you’ve got to make sure you’ve got a great support system because it’s going to get tough and you’ll need help to get through it.’
But I’d also say, ‘Stick it out, because this work is so rewarding! Doing this, you’ll help people from all walks of life. You’ll help them and their families find financial freedom, and you learn something new just about every single day!’“
What’s something you wish more people knew about real estate?
“I wish more people knew how hard your agent works on your behalf. I know for me, I really do work around the clock to find the best home for my clients. And it’s not just about finding the best home. I work hard to build community relationships so that I can help my clients also get the best financing and lending, and I strive to educate the community and influence policy changes to make more neighborhoods and home ownership accessible to more people.
Home accessibility leads right into the second thing I wish more people know about. I wish more people knew about the historical context behind real estate. A lot of people have no idea about the racist legacy in real estate. So many neighborhoods, towns, and cities across our country have been literally shaped by redlining and housing segregation. Today, we do have laws and policies like the Fair Housing Act that help minimize new segregation. However, these policies don’t re-balance the many and vast imbalances created by the decades and decades legacy of redlining and housing segregation.“
How do you stay updated on real estate market trends?
“I keep a short list of resources and outlets to help me stay informed, and I routinely scan and review them. Some of my info ‘Go-To’s’ are local and national newspapers, various social media profiles and channels, my professional peers and fellow team members. My clients also help me stay updated. I work with a wide range of clients, and working with so many different people and different situations helps me see micro trends as they start to form. Seeing these micro trends then helps me contextualize our local market with the national market and vice versa.“
What’s one of the hardest problems in real estate today?
“There’s a lot of things happening right now in real estate, so I have to break it down into at least two sides. On my professional side, I think one of the hardest problems today is flat fee realtors. I get why this fee structure is appealing to clients, and if there’s a better way to help my clients, I’ll do it in a heartbeat. But, unfortunately, what I’ve found is that the flat fee looks good on paper but doesn’t pan out in the real world. Current flat fee structures unintentionally influence a broker to give their clients less. With a flat fee, the more hours a realtor works the less they make, and the less they work the more they make. So this structure inadvertently flips the whole setup and winds up hurting instead of helping clients. In short, with flat fee realtors, I think you get what you pay for (which isn’t much).
However, with a full service realtor, yes you may pay more, but you will get far, far better service. A full service realtor will take their time with you. They will hold your hand through the real estate process and provide you with impeccable service. They will explain each document, unpack each aspect of the market, and truly walk with you through the entire offer and contract process.
That’s my professional side, and on my personal side, I think one of the hardest problems in real estate today is the huge (and widening) gap between White homeowners and Black and Brown homeowners. Like I was saying before, the legacy of redlining and housing segregation has intentionally taken from Black and Brown families in order to give more to White families. Even though many people don’t see this explicitly happening today, they don’t have to for it to be real. It’s the history and legacy and long-lasting effects of segregation that is hurting so many families today. Just because something isn’t taken away today doesn’t mean you can’t be hurt by what was already taken away yesterday,
So, mixing my personal and professional sides, I believe we have to bridge the homeownership gap, and that’s why I work so hard to educate my peers and community about the redlining legacy and about Black/Brown homeownership today. But, I know first hand that creating creative ways to solve these problems is HARD! It’s so hard to change inertia, complacency, precedent, status-quo, policies, regulations, and rules. But, as a society, we’ve changed all kinds of policies, regulations, and rules before (some for better and some for very much worse). But, all that to say, rules change all the time, and I do believe that we can change the rules, laws, and legacies that have been handed down to us. I believe we can change them from systems that put so many people down into systems that lift everyone up.“
What gets you out of bed everyday to be a realtor?
“Being totally honest, I love this job, and I do it for my community and for myself and my family. I do this job because it allows me to build unlimited income and it makes me feel powerful. I do this job because so many people said I “couldn’t” do this job. I do this job because I want my kids to look up to me and know that their mom is a BOSS! I also do this job because I really do want to make a difference in somebody’s life. I want to change the world and leave a positive legacy long after I’m gone. And I also do this job because it’s hard! And I love a challenge.“
*To learn more about the legacy of real estate and redlining, read our article: 5 Podcasts Reveal the Hidden History, Influence, and Stories of Real Estate Today
*To learn more about Tiffany’s work, see her interview with PBS Wisconsin: Why Race Matters: Home Ownership
Also, visit the organization she helped found: Own It: Building Black Wealth.